The New Zealand dollar is set to move past parity against the Australian dollar in 2014 for the first time in 40 years, economists at HSBC (NYSE: HSFC'B) say.
Paul Bloxham, chief economist for Australia and New Zealand at HSBC, told CNBC's Asia Squawk Box on Monday the New Zealand dollar - or kiwi (Exchange:NZDAUD=) as it is known - could surge over 8 percent against the Australian dollar (Exchange:AUD00H=) this year, as its central bank aggressively hikes interest rates.
(Read more: Kiwi dollar too strong: New Zealand Finance Minister )
"We think it's [the kiwi] going to appreciate and it could actually get past 86-87 cents [against the U.S. dollar], and perhaps even past Aussie (Exchange:AUDNZD=) dollar parity for the first time in 40 years," said Bloxham.
On Monday the New Zealand dollar was trading at 0.9250 against the Australian dollar and 0.8367 against the greenback in early morning trade in Asia.
The kiwi has been a hot trade over the past year as economists have turned increasingly bullish on New Zealand's booming economy.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has sounded an increasingly hawkish tone, talking of some 225 basis points worth of rate hikes over the next two years.
(Read More: Could this be the hottest currency trade of 2014? )
As a result, investors have piled into the kiwi, pushing it up nearly 13 percent against the Aussie over the past 12 months, and nearly 9 percent against the greenback since June.
But not all analysts agree that the New Zealand dollar is such a hot trade this year.
Sean Callow, senior currency strategist at Westpac bank (ASX:WBC-AU), told CNBC the RBNZ has been talking about rate hikes for so long that currency traders have already priced them in.
(Read more: Will New Zealand defy consensus and raise rates?)
"The Aussie-kiwi exchange rate has factored in steep RBNZ hikes in 2014 for many months," said Callow.
"In fact the only key change in the macro story on Aussie-Kiwi this year is the change in the Reserve Bank of Australia's stance, a formal switch to neutral and an end or pause in jawboning on the Aussie, which of course is positive for the Aussie versus New Zealand dollar," he added, referring to the most recent Australian central bank meeting where the removal of a previous 'easing bias' gave the Australian dollar a boost.
(Read More: Is the worst over for the Aussie dollar? )
Callow added that although he expects the kiwi to remain on the strong side of its long-term average this year, an uptick in the Australian economy and its trade balance will make a test of parity on the cross unlikely.
Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG (London Stock Exchange: IGG-GB), also said he believed the RBNZ's hawkish stance to be mostly priced in.
"The New Zealand dollar is pricing in aggressive hikes from the RBNZ, however it's the Australian dollar side that's a little hazy," he said.
"I sit in the camp that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will be on hold for some time, but [if we get] a weak capex print and a lower inflation read the RBA could look at rates more negatively," he said, adding that as a 'hold' scenario was more likely in his view, he saw is as unlikely that the Australian dollar would weaken enough to bring the cross to parity.
New Zealand's economic growth is expected to outpace Australia this year, and HSBC forecasts growth of 3.4 percent, its fastest pace since 2007 as increased construction spending following the 2011 earthquake, a continued housing boom and rising dairy prices boost the economy. Consensus expectations are for the Australian economy to expand by 2.9 percent in 2014, by contrast.
(Read more: Australia's jobs picture keeps getting uglier )
HSBC's Bloxham, who told CNBC earlier this year that he saw New Zealand as the 'rock star economy' of 2014, said he expects the RBNZ to move in March, hiking rates by 25 basis points, and then a further 75 basis points over the course of the year.
- By CNBC's Katie Holliday: Follow her on Twitter @hollidaykatie
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